It was John’s idea initially. He’s an old friend and drinking buddy and an excellent sound engineer and musician in his own right. He came to a Spines practice with his laptop and some good mics and tried to record us rehearsing. It was like a dry run.
Our time in the practice space is limited to a couple of hours a week so we relocated to a building on Dixon Street that my other friend Neil had recently bought that had a vacant top floor and good acoustics.
It was originally only going to be four or five songs but the results we were getting were so good that we expanded it into a full twelve track album. They were a bunch of tunes that I’d been wanting to record for a while that happened to fit together well – we recorded fifteen then cut it back to the final twelve.
We laid down the bass, drums and a guide vocal/guitar first – Les and Malky nailed each song in a couple of takes over three sessions – then I played all my guitar parts and lead vocals over the top. The Dixon Street room was great for all this but John had a piano at his house in Karori so we relocated out there for Hannah to do her keyboards, violin and backing vocals. That’s where John and I mixed and mastered it as well
So the whole thing took several months of weekends and a lot of time investment and focus. John was excellent and patient throughout – he was busy with his own life but hung in there and certainly stamped his mark over the project.
In the times between I conceptualised the running order, themes and artwork and came up with the title. Then Les got the CDs pressed and his wife Adele helped me with getting the cover design ready for the printers.
By chance a space came up at San Fran on a Friday night and I leapt on it as the perfect way to launch the CD at Wellington’s premier live venue. Phantom Billstickers came on board to help with the posters and that was it.
On Friday night when I got to the bar Simon was DJing and a bunch of good friends were already there. It was Malky’s 40th birthday and there was a party atmosphere in the hoose.
Tyson Smith did a great set as a warm-up and then we got on the stage.
I had this plan to play through the album live and I think we managed it pretty faithfully although I did stretch out a couple of the guitar solos because I could. After that we had a break before coming back on to close out the night with a set of older material.
It was a massive night for me and I’m still in recovery mode in a way. The record is out there on Bandcamp now and I’ll be interested to see what people make of it….
The Ghost of Electricity – War Stories by Jon McLeary is a new initiative at Off The Tracks, a series of stories and reflections from painter, writer and musician Jon McLeary